Are the Good Old Days of New Mexico Elk Hunting"
By the fact you're here
at this website,
you've probably heard something about elk hunting in New Mexico.
It is rare
and surprising when something lives up to its hype and claims.
I think New Mexico elk hunting is one of those rare subjects.
Time , geography , circumstance and good management have come
together to produce elk hunting opportunity which is amongst the worlds
half of the last century
marked a period when real efforts were made by many states and
Indian tribes to restore
the magnificent elk to this landscape;
high mountains, foothills and plains of the West.
This work came together in New Mexico in a remarkable way.
New Mexico has vast areas of
pubic lands with very low human populations.
There are also
several large Indian reservations in the state.
With the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish as a coordinator
these public and tribal lands' managers have carried out a program of
forage development, genetic selection,
and hunt controls which brings us to the good place we're in today.
Apache Indian tribes were instrumental early on in bringing in
superior elk genetics for herd restoration.
These bulls' progeny roam not only the reservation lands,
but also the millions of acres of Bureau of Land Management and
National Forest Service properties which adjoin.
The Mescalero Apache and Jicarilla Apache tribes are to be
commended for their early vision and actions in building large elk herds
with superior trophy quality.
extraordinary diversity and beauty of the New Mexico landscape has
contributed not only to it's legendary status as "The Land Of
but has provided a slate upon which the story of elk recovery could
be written. The
casual traveler through New Mexico will note the miles of low wind
scrubbed desert plains and harsh rocky landscape.
All you need do,
though, to appreciate this land's excellence in elk recovery,
is point your car to the nearest visible mountain range,
of which there are many.
As the land gently slopes up the flanks of the mountains, you see
the natural transition into lush grassy plains,
pinon / juniper
eventually into the high alpine meadows of mixed aspen and conifers.
It is in this area of geographical transition that the elk have
staged their comeback.
grazers by nature, thrive in on the nutrient rich grasses of the lower
the demands of hot weather and water requirements dictate,
the elk seek refuge in the cooler,
wetter, climes of the mountains.
Most of these mountain ranges are designated National Forest
properties with the lower flanking properties administered by the Bureau
of Land Management.
these are public lands.
to use, appreciate,
and to hunt.
New Mexico Department of Game and Fish,
several years ago,
divide the state into a large number (50+) of individual game
management units. This has enabled
individual areas of habitat to be managed in a focused manner with
development efforts and hunting pressures regulated to the needs of the
of the many noteworthy areas of success in elk recovery are the Gila
National Forest in the southwest quadrant of the state, the Lincoln
National Forest in the southeast quadrant
and the Carson National Forest in the northwest.
Gila" (pronounced "heelah") is a vast rugged area,
It is the
nearly impossibly rough hideout of the famed
Apache war chief Geronimo.
This area was recognized early in the 20th century for its unique
natural qualities by Aldo Leopold, the visionary naturalist who was
instrumental in creating the Wilderness Act.
A large portion of The Gila
was the first area designated as "wilderness" and
protected from development.
It remains the largest area of wilderness in the lower 48 to this
of this area is accessible only on foot or horseback.
Elk hunting in the Gila grew to legendary status in the last 30
years with truly enormous bulls being taken year after year.
These are the "Gila Monsters"
you've likely heard about.
There are several game management units within the Gila.
Carson National forest in northwestern NM is is at the foot of the Rocky
Mountains as they make their decline from the towering
14,0000' peaks of
southern Colorado. This area hosts several individual sectors of National
Forest, the Jicarilla Apache
reservation, and vast
acreages of BLM land. Elk
thrived on the Jicarilla reservation under the careful direction of tribal
managers and is now a world renowned
premium trophy area for both elk and mule deer.
The surrounding forest areas benefited early from the spread of elk
off the reservation. Continued
work by the NM Department of Game and Fish has furthered
elk recovery success in this northern sector.
This area is where we are headquartered.
The elk hunts here are excellent 2nd or 3rd choices on you
application. These are lower demand hunt units.
They provide a decent hunt with greater odds of drawing a tag.
We suggest them as a "backup" choice with one of our more
premium units as a first choice. This
is absolutely top drawer for trophy mule deer.
There are some mule deer hunts offered this year that will be
phenomenal. Visit our mule
deer pages for further discussion of these hunts.
area to border a a progressive Apache reservation is the Lincoln National
Forest near the Ruidoso / Cloudcroft area in southeastern New Mexico.
Here the stark contrast of transition from heated desert floor to
shady aspen groves is particularly apparent.
within an hour's drive you go from the cactus studded White Sands
Missile Range up to the aspen and fern glades of
Sunspot, on the high
rim of the Sacramento Mountains.
This area is another which has emerged as an elk haven. It
is now so productive for huge
elk and great herd numbers that it has become our top selection for trophy
speak of the "good old days" of elk hunting. I think if you hunt New
Mexico for elk you'll tell your children you were there for the "Good Old
Days". We're living them.
choosing an elk hunt the criteria quickly boils down to two basic
can I find that elk of my dreams?"
"Where can I actually get a license to hunt that elk of my
One of my
most important roles as an outfitter is to help you in resolving
these issues. We
will help you in the selection of a hunt which will meet your trophy
one for which you stand a reasonable chance of getting a license. There
are no over the counter elk licenses in New Mexico.
Limited licenses are distributed through a lottery drawing. I'll
help you meet the deadline for this application process
if you choose to apply through San Juan River Outfitters and Livery
application will be processed through the outfitters pool,
which will greatly improve your odds of being drawn for a license
"What are my
Odds" for a more detailed discussion of your chances)
will help you make an educated selection from the hundreds of hunt options
match you up with a hunt which meets your trophy aspirations,
and weapons choice.
Choosing a Hunt and
we'll discuss some of your options.
thank you for considering San Juan River Outfitters and Livery Co. for
your New Mexico hunt. I enjoy nothing more than discussing elk hunting,
so please feel free to contact me at either of the numbers below.
Hopefully we can get to see you in New Mexico this fall.
For more information
Choosing a Hunt
San Juan River Outfitters and Livery Co.
#200 Rd. 4599